I know it's been a LONG time since I've written. My work with Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. is a full time job. My other full time occupation has been hanging out in the waiting room of the orthopedic associates' office that I visit with great regularity.
If they had punch cards, and with every visit you got one punch, I would certainly be entitled to one free surgery by now. I've chatted with the UPS man who lugs those massive boxes to all our front doors and whose back has finally given out. I've commiserated with the cleaning gal whose knees just can't take the hard tile floors anymore. I've listened to the young soccer player who is healing from his second meniscus tear, but wants to be able to be a starter his senior year.
I've been doctored by the knee, the foot and ankle, the spine, and the pain management docs. All of them are excellent, but the pain still persists and I cry out, "How long, O Lord?" This is going on six years of prayer. I'm afraid to ask, "What next?" One silver lining blessing, is that I have developed a sincere compassion for those who have suffered for many years with chronic pain. I've learned that it can be debilitating physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
If you know someone who suffers from fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, neuropathy, ongoing mental illness, or any other form of chronic pain, please don't offer the obligatory, "Let me know if there's anything I can do," just do it.
Back to my initial question, "When will God answer my prayer?" In my case, "When, God, will you heal me?" "How long, O Lord?"
There is a great mystery to prayer. What about this scripture:
John 14:13-14 King James Version (KJV)
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
I believe that this is not simply prayer that mentions Jesus' name, but prayer that is in accordance with all that the person who bears the name is. It is prayer that would carry forth the essence of what the work of Jesus is all about. Prayer in accordance with the heart of Christ.
When Christ was all alone in the Garden of Gethsemane and He literally poured tears of blood, He prayed:
Luke 22:42 New International Version (NIV)
42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Christ's Spirit groaned because He did not want to face an excruciating death on the cross, but yet His earnest prayer ends with, "Yet not my will, but Yours be done."
If Jesus' most heartfelt petition before God ends with, not my will, but Yours, how then should we pray?
I like how my writer friend, Michele Morin phrases it:
" But if God were just a vending machine, there would be no need for relationship, and this is what our hearts truly need from the living God." (Michelle Morin)
God isn't just some kind of giant vending machine that we press D4 - "I'd like healing for my disease." or J7 "I'd like a better job." or A2 "Please let my marriage be saved," and out pops an answer (that WE desire) to our prayer.
We might ask for M&M's and get cheese crackers instead. Why?
I believe Michele is right....it's more about the relationship than the answer.
There is a third scripture that speaks to coming before His throne of grace:
16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
I have asked so many times to be healed from these physical impairments, but I have received, instead, so much more.
I have felt God's mercy as He has beckoned me to climb into His lap and shed my tears upon His shoulder. He has been faithful to never leave nor forsake me.
I've experienced His grace. He has given me patience and courage to withstand the pain, abide in Him, and wait patiently and expectantly for what He will perform.
Most of all He's given me Himself. On days when I can't walk or move much, I can be in His Word. When I can't be busy, I can be still and pray. When I'm not distracted, I really sense His presence with me.
On good days, I praise Him with a grateful heart.
I know what it is to have a relationship with my Lord. Perhaps it's the pain and my prayers that have brought me to this point?!
Perhaps the answers to our prayers is that God gives us so much more than the limited answers we ask for.
He gives us His time, His mercy, His grace, His gift of salvation, His love, His faithfulness, His peace, His goodness, His tenderness, His kindness.....
He gives us Himself.
So as to why some answers are quick, slow, "wait," "yes," or "no," I don't know. That's why God is God and I am not. Therein lies the mystery.
But this I know....God always answers when we ask....
Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me for when I simply want my way when I come to you in prayer. Help me to come before your throne with a humble and contrite heart. I praise and thank you that you ALWAYS hear and answer my prayers. Give me confidence to trust that You know what is best for me and to want Your will above my own. Thank you for the gift of your presence that you offer. Keep drawing me into relationship with You as I wait on You to answer. Enable me to accept your answers with grace and peace. In Jesus name I ask and pray, Amen.
What about you? Is there a prayer that you have been praying for a long time? Are you seeking your will or God's will? What do you think He may be wanting to tell you as you await His answer? Might He have already answered your prayer? and if so How? What has God taught You about prayer? Will you share?